Relief at last: Vaccine treats cat allergy in humans

Relief at last: Vaccine treats cat allergy in humans

Allergy sufferers may finally have an easy and inexpensive way to enjoy feline company.
Apr 04, 2011
By staff

Sneezing and itchy eyes that won’t stop watering—is there a cat in the room? For those who suffer from cat allergies, decisions surrounding how to treat the condition can be difficult. It’s estimated that 8 percent to 10 percent of the population is allergic to cats. And until now, the only two choices were to receive frequent allergy shots or to get rid of the family pet. Both options are difficult, either from an emotional or financial standpoint. But now, McMaster University (Ontario, Canada) researchers have developed a vaccine that successfully treats people with an allergy to cats.

According to the immunologists involved in the research, the vaccine is effective and safe and has almost no side effects. The researchers isolated a protein that cats secrete on their fur, and that causes the majority of allergic problems. Using blood samples from 100 volunteers allergic to cats, they deconstructed the molecule and identified short regions within the protein that activate T-cells in the immune system. Using the amino acid code for the whole protein, researchers made synthetic versions of these regions, identified seven peptides, and combined them in the vaccine.

A low dose of the vaccine is given into the skin. Initially, four to eight doses a year may be required, but the side effects associated with traditional allergy shots do not arise, researchers say. The optimal dose will be determined in phase-three clinical trials, which are getting underway with a much larger group of cat allergy sufferers.

Click here for more information about the study.